My Proudest Day

Nick - San Luis Obispo, California
Entered on April 14, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: death, family, legacy
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On any other chilly, Saturday morning, the day would have consisted of youth basketball games, chores, or soccer matches. December in Seattle evokes memories and excitement of sporting events unlike any other time of the year. However, on this day, my usual butterflies were replaced with a somber demeanor and an uncertainty about how my day would unfold. Our family was not gathering at a park or a gym, but at the church. I put on a different suit that day.

I was the youngest of the four casket bearers during the procession. It was a tremendous honor and proud moment to be a vital part of my grandfather’s funeral. My grandfather was the closest grandparent to me at the time. I spent much of my visits to his house listening to baseball together and learning his hobbies. He instilled in me a passion for playing cards that I only dream could rival his. After the procession, most of the family gathered at our house. As we drove home, the scenery that was so familiar seemed to take a glum fixture in the gray sky. The reception became an odd mix of delicious treats and attempts to humor our heavy hearts. I started talking with some of his past friends that reiterated my notions of grandpa as a patient man with an emphatic passion for cards. As I listened to individuals speak with warm and kind words toward my grandfather, I slipped a smile. My relationship with my grandpa became a culmination of what I learned that was unique only to me.

Halfway through the reception, I said my goodbyes to beloved family and friends. I took the car and said I’d be home after midnight. There was no objection or usual questioning by my parents; they just let me go. I didn’t even change outfits.

I was 16 at the time so guy/girl dances were a fairly new concept for me. I was always a little nervous and awkward throughout the night. The ball, at the ritzy Seattle Yacht Club on the lake, consisted of elegant and wealthy individuals from all over the state. On any other night I would have felt intimidated and subversive to the style and culture in the room. On that night, I felt as confident as ever. About three weeks earlier I had been invited to attend a Winter Ball with Hannah, a cute girl I liked. Even after the events of the week, I still wanted to attend. At the ball, we ate, danced, and met new friends. Of all my dance experiences, few have been as memorable. I emitted confidence and constructed myself in a manner well beyond my immature age of 16. Perhaps what I felt at the procession and reception resonated as emotions that 16 year old’s normally don’t face. I had been immersed in a sea of emotions, only to bubble up humble and aware. I no longer felt timid recognizing the emotions of my peers and acted with confidence while responding to these emotions. We left the Ball under a rare, starry December sky.

I believe that individuals have the power to manipulate emotion. We all become overwhelmed at times, only to peak or trough when we reach boiling point. My relationship with my grandfather cultivated while he was alive and flourished after he passed. I can attribute much of my character and actions to how his day of celebration became my proudest day.